Monday, March 30, 2020

Still Indoors

Some things never change.  Once again, spent part of the day in communication with students, grading papers, etc.  I did some coloring last night at home, starting with light warm colors (yellows, browns) as is my custom when building color in a new print.

News mentioned more suggestions of changes and restrictions on life.  Got me out of the house for a little while to take care of business while I could.  Since my school was switched over to distance learning, I have devoted a lot of time to thinking about how I would teach the projects planned for my  class. The print project had to go, since it depends too much on things I provide (materials and tools), and I can't expect the students to have access to all that, or to spend the money to get it, if there is any place out there that sells it these days.  But I think I can pull off everything else that was planned for this semester- just involves thinking of new ways to teach it.

For example, I usually devote a week of the Intro class to a lesson in perspective drawing.  Coming up with a workable system for perspective drawing was complex trick for artists, took a long time, but eventually some early renaissance Italians figured it out, and shared it with the world. Me, I'm not a huge fan of perspective systems, since they do some considerable distortion. The problem is that the  world is three dimensional, and paper is two dimensional, and you can't lose a whole dimension without having a problem.  Rendering a single object in space is easy enough (even cave dwellers could do that well), but a whole group together, and showing them all in their proper space, that's a challenge. Perspective systems take advantage of the fact that objects diminish with mathematical regularity over distance, but there is still considerable distortion in using them, especially as you move further from the center of the composition. When I teach basic drawing, I demonstrate how these systems work, then immediately tell my students not to do it.  (I advocate using negative space and relative positions to decide where things should go) Of course the Intro class is not a drawing class, and most students arrive knowing nothing, so it's still an improvement, one they can learn quickly.  My typical assignment for this project is to have the students draw an interior corner of our classroom, which looks something like this:

I get them started, then spend the class period walking continuously around the room showing them the steps until they finish the corner or the class ends, whichever comes first.  But now we are all banned from campus, so none of that can happen. My collection of yardsticks stays in the car.

Had to come up with a way of doing it over the internet.  Been using this blog format for much of what I am doing.  Always had anyway, whether it be to review what we did during the class, or to have images online of past projects for current students to see, or often both. What I came up with was the idea of showing a series of drawings of an interior corner being drawn in two point perspective, how-to steps.  It's more help than I ever got.  We were taken outside and learned to draw an exterior corner of a building in 2 point perspective, then given the homework assignment over the weekend of doing an interior corner, but no further instructions.  So that Sunday night, there were a lot of beginning art students on the phone to each other (and these were rotary dialed extensions, not a quick process) frantically trying to figure it out.  Eventually I did (20th century Italian) and shared it with my classmates over the phone, without the benefit of pictures.  We survived that class.

I can do some sketching and coloring of my own work at home, but for a class demonstrations in photo format, I need space and a large tack board, and that is in my Studio.  So in the afternoon I took a big piece of white paper, my digital camera, and headed up there.  No Molly, so I put on some music, Abbey Road by the Beatles from my library there, and did a simple two point perspective drawing of a room interior corner, taking photos at each step, such as this one.

I'm asking a corner, a door, something on the wall (window, framed art, etc) and a small piece of furniture, not unlike what I would ask them to find in the classroom.  It will be a while before I learn whether this works.  This lesson is scheduled for late April, and while Nichole has said that we are considered essential employees in our space, the rate at which new laws and policies are announced causes me to have some doubts about what the future holds.  So take the photos now, teach the process later.

As I was leaving, the rain had come back again, making me glad I had not brought my new taped print with me to work on and photograph there.   Stayed safe and dry in my apartment. You'll have to wait for another time to see it.


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